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Full text of "Christ our rest and king : a sermon preached at York in the Church of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, on Wednesday, the 26th of September, 1843 ; in behalf of the Diocesan Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge"

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By the same Author, 
SERMONS. Second Edition. 8vo, 10s. 6d. 


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A SERMON, &c. 

ISAIAH xxxii. 1, 2. 

" Behold a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes 
shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an 
hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the 
tempest ; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the 
shadow of a great rock in a weary land." 

THIS promise is a prophecy of the reign of 
Hezekiah when truth and righteousness should once 
more bear rule in Jerusalem. The people had been 
oppressed by wicked kings, and worn out by the 
miseries which come in the train of unrighteous 
princes. The whole city was full of strife : the 
priesthood was debased : the tribunals of the law 
corrupt: "judgment was turned away backward, 
truth was fallen in the street, and equity could not 
enter." The public contentions penetrated even into 
private life : every household had its grief: and every 
poor man his wrong. The whole civil state was 
diseased and its frame disordered. They were days 
of sorrow for the weak and helpless : for the father- 
less and the widow, and for the few that feared the 
Lord in Jerusalem : for the powers of evil carried all 
away : and there w r as none to resist them. 


But the Lord promised that it should not be so 
for ever. There was a King yet to arise who should 
reign by a righteous sway : and his princes and 
ministers under him rule in truth and justice. And 
then every man should have his wrongs redressed, 
and hold his own in safety under the shelter of a 
righteous throne. 

Such is the plain meaning of the prophecy. But 
we cannot read it without a consciousness that one 
greater than Hezekiah is here. As we dwell upon 
it, a broader light seems to arise from every part, 
and the outlines of some mightier kingdom to shape 
themselves before us. Plainly this prophecy was ful- 
filled in the reign of Hezekiah, but Hezekiah the 
king of the prophecy becomes, in turn, a type of 
Christ and of the kingdom of God. 

The oppressions of Jerusalem are a faint type of 
the fallen condition of mankind. The kingdom of 
darkness was over all. Falsehood and wrong were 
its laws : and the supreme sway was in the hands of 
the prince of the power of the air : of the evil one 
and his angels. Sin and death with fear and anguish 
dwelt in the soul of man. Conscious guilt, and the 
torment of impurity and the gnawing of an evil 
heart drove men hither and thither for help and heal- 
ing. They sought to their own wisdom and powers 
in vain : they turned to soothsayers and seers, to 
philosophers and wise men, to the powers and pheno- 
mena of nature, but there was no help in them. Sin 
and death were too mighty : the soil and the sting 
were in man's soul too deep for any thing in the 
world to heal. Naked and homeless, wounded and 

(lying, men went up and down, afflicted, and afflict- 
ing one another : full of fears, and vexation of spirit, 
having no hope, without God in the world. Such 
was the state of man : the great laws of God's king- 
dom were arrayed against him : his own being was 
marred, and his very nature was at war with God. 
He was conscious that he had fallen under the domi- 
nion of a power greater than the power of man : 
less only than the power of God : that he was the 
slave of a taskmaster from whom God alone could set 
him free: that he was in himself miserable and un- 
clean, and that God alone could cleanse him, and 
give him rest. The wind and the tempest, the parch- 
ing thirst, and the scorching heat of this evil world 
beat full upon him, and he W 7 as without hiding-place or 
shelter, without water to slake or shadow to cover 
him. Such is man by nature, in the struggle of 
temptation, in the season of pain, in the hour of 
death. Under all the pomp and glory of the heathen 
world, under all its majestic worship, and high-spoken 
philosophy, there was an anguish at the very heart. 
And this wretchedness was made all the sorer by the 
very medicines with which they thought to heal them- 
selves. Their schemes of worship and expiation : 
their lustrations and sacrifices, and all the imaginary 
virtues by which they sought for health and peace : 
what did they but mock and betray them : lure them 
with false hopes and then leave them in bitterness, and 
disappointment : more conscious of their misery than 
ever. Such was the state of the Heathen world : and 
as it \vas w T ith the Heathen so it was with the Jew r s 
and much more so : for they had received the law of 
God in which the judgment of the w^orld to come was 
recorded against every soul that sinneth. In that law 


they learned the powers of sin and death : they 
discerned their own fallen, and helpless state. And 
this made them all the more to long for a hiding place, 
and a covert in which to shelter their weakness. The 
law was a schoolmaster to bring them unto Christ. 
It was a transcript of the holiness of God : and of 
the royal law of his kingdom : " Be ye holy ; for I am 
holy." 1 And this they felt to be impossible. It was 
" not possible that the blood of bulls or of goats should 
take away sin."' Some great reality reaching to the 
spiritual laws of God's kingdom, something akin to 
the powers of life and death, was needed to reconcile 
and heal the fallen spirit of man. 

And this is what is promised in this prophecy. 

1. For first we learn that the rest and shelter of 
mankind is Christ himself. " A man shall be a hiding 
place from the wind." What man is this but " the 
man Christ Jesus." 3 "God of the substance of the 
Father begotten before the world : and man of the 
substance of his mother born in the world. Perfect 
God, and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human 
flesh subsisting."? He is the almighty universal 
Healer of mankind. By his incarnation : by his life : 
by his death : by his resurrection : by his ascension 
into Heaven : by his unseen kingdom reigning over 
all : by his princes, the pastors of his church ruling 
in judgment, by his word, and by his sacraments, 
by his providence over his church and by his presence 
in it, He the prince of peace, the Lord our righteous- 
ness hath made Himself to be a hiding place from 

1 1. Peter i. 16. * Heb. x. 4. 1. Tim. ii. 5. 


the wind, a covert from the tempest as rivers of water 
in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in 
a weary land. There is no sorrow of body or spirit 
for which there is not healing and consolation in him. 
Human nature has no capacity of suffering for which 
he has not a medicine and a cure. In the whole 
compass of human griefs there is no pang nor agony 
for which there is not healing in the Word made Flesh. 
From the sting of conscious guilt to the pure sorrow 
of the bereaved and desolate, there is no form of 
affliction which he has not a balm to allay. For He is 
Himself the medicine of all mankind. He is our 
" wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and 
redemption." 1 He is "our peace." 2 He is "all, 
and in all." 3 Christ in us is " the hope of glory."* 
The man Christ Jesus is " the resurrection and the 
life." 5 By his incarnation he hath purged our man- 
hood : by his life and death he has overcome death 
and sin. In him mankind is by virtue and anticipation 
restored to more than original glory. We are made 
righteous and immortal. In him the second Adam 
there is the beginning of the new creation. He has 
restored the sovereignty of God over his own world : 
and the sovereignty of man over his own nature : and 
has exalted man even above angels : and enthroned 
our manhood "at the right hand of God, whereby he 
has become a Prince and a Saviour to the world. 
And this he has done, first, by abolishing the guilt 
of sin. He has in himself made propitiation for us 
towards God. All the power of sin and death cannot 
reach the man that is sheltered under the atonement 

1 1. Cor. i. 30. 2 Ephes. ii. 14. 3 Col. iii. 11. 

4 Col. i. 27. 5 John xi. 25. 


of our Redeemer. He blotted out " the hand-writing 
of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary 
to us, and took it out of the way nailing it to his 
cross." 1 "If any man sin we have an advocate with 
the Father Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the 
propitiation for our sins." 5 His perpetual inter- 
cession is the perpetual cleansing of the penitent 

But once more : He has not only made peace for us 
by Atonement towards God, but also by sanctifying 
our very nature, He has made peace for us in our- 
selves. By his incarnation He has abolished sin itself. 
He is our shelter from the taint and dominion of the 
sin which dwells in us. This is our true misery. 
Nothing else is worthy to be called misery but the 
sorrow which comes through sin. What can be more 
utterly miserable than a man who is inflated with pride, 
or tormented by jealousy: or defiled by lust? The 
consciousness that sin is in him : and that he is a 
defaced and darkened creature in the sight of God 
and of his Holy Angels : and the sorrow and the shame 
which come with this consciousness : and the pain of 
being tempted to unseemly and hateful things, and 
often overcome by temptation these are the things 
that make a man truly miserable. It is easier to 
bear any purer affliction such as sickness, contra- 
diction of the world, or false accusations than the 
sting and solicitation of sin : for these are sorrows 
that have no alleviation. We may try to excite our- 
selves by a false happiness : and to forget our inward 
plague in the noise and lightness of a worldly life : or 

1 Col. ii. 14. * 1. John ii. 12. 


to take refuge in theories and philosophical refinement : 
or to subdue our evils by a proud self-discipline, but 
it is all in vain. None but He can give us rest. 
Nothing but the virtues which go out of Him can heal 
our inveterate ills. If we will we may flee from our- 
selves to Him. He will receive us arid defend us 
against ourselves : taking from us, one by one, our 
spiritual taints ; shedding abroad in us the spirit of 
his own sanctity ; cleansing us every whit. We can 
never be free from the fear and distress of our hearts 
until they are cleansed by his spirit : until we our- 
selves, like unclean spirits, are cast out of ourselves, 
and our hearts are possessed and hallowed by the 
presence of Christ through the Holy Ghost. Pie is 
the only refuge, when the world, the flesh and the 
devil, " the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and 
the pride of life," when our own evil passions, and 
pampered sins, the anger, vanity, impatience, and 
the manifold powers of sin which were born in us set 
the battle in array, " when the blast of the terrible 
ones is as a storm against the wall:" 1 then that Man 
is a covert and a hiding-place, a river of cleansing, 
and a shadow of refreshment : then He will not only 
forgive but will cleanse our sin : will give us inward 
peace, by giving to us purity of heart : by clean 
changing all we are into his own likeness ; and filling 
us with the mind that is in Himself. 

Again, he is the true and only comforter of man- 
kind under the sorrows which came with sin into the 
world. Death, and disease, anguish and bitterness 
are upon the body and soul of man. To most men 

1 Isaiah xxv. 4. 


they are an intolerable suffering, preying upon them 
with a complete mastery. The sorrows of the Heathen 
and of them that live without God are unutterably 
great : shadows of the unallayed and endless torment 
beyond the grave. But sorrow seems to be in one 
sense the peculiar inheritance of the saints. The 
holiest seem to enter deepest into the mystery of 
affliction. " Whom the Lord loveth lie chasteneth, 
and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." 1 No 
law is written more broadly in the kingdom of God. 
But the whole order is reversed. Christ has said, 
"Blessed are they that mourn." 2 Death and the 
grave, sickness and wasting, anxiety and fear of 
coming sorrows are the shrouded tokens of love which 
He sends to his elect. The laws of affliction and 
mortality which are upon all the world have their full 
counterpoise in the peace and immortality which are 
in Christ Jesus. To them that are without Christ 
they are indeed mere unlighteried suffering. The 
afflicted race of man have no other shelter : no other 
perfect sympathy. The world is a hard unsympathising 
comforter: a poor friend in the long hours of grief 
and desolation : in the faintness and weariness of 
sorrow, when a man's throat is dry, and his sight 
faileth for waiting so long upon God : then when all 
these fail, when the nearest and fondest cannot soothe, 
and the tenderest human sympathy, the most pathetic 
consolations, are all un persuasive and unreal, He is 
" as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow 
of a great rock in a weary land." We may tell out 
before him all our troubles and fear, and beseech him, 
further, to look into those unuttered griefs for which 

1 Heb. xii. 6. 3 Matthew v. 4. 


we can find no words: which we hide even from our 
nearest friends : and hardly venture to he conscious of 
ourselves. To an imperfect love and an imperfect sym- 
pathy we dare not make them so much as suspected : 
hut to him we may lay open all : and He will feel with 
us in perfect human sympathy hlended with a divine 

2. We may learn another truth from this prophecy. 
It is said " a king shall reign." If, therefore, we 
would partake of the rest arid shelter which is in Him 
we must hecome partakers of His kingdom. 

In what way the Incarnation and the Atonement 
of the Son of God may mitigate even for the Heathen 
world the laws of sin and death which are against 
them : in what w r ay the virtues of the One Great 
Sacrifice may go out to heal multitudes who have 
never beheld the Cross visibly lifted up upon them, we 
know not. God is of larger hand in mercy than we 
conceive. He has depths of compassion into which 
angels cannot look. It may be that even they who 
are beyond the bounds of His visible kingdom of 
righteousness on earth may be drawn by ways inscrut- 
able into the precincts of eternal life. With this we 
have nothing to do, but to hope and w 7 ait for the day 
of revelation. For us, however, this is certain, we 
know of no way to be healed but by submitting our- 
selves to him in his visible kingdom. It is not merely 
by knowing these things that we became partakers of 
it. Christianity is not only a theory of spiritual 
doctrine, but an order of spiritual obedience. Know- 
ledge is our guide to Christ's kingdom: but knowledge 
alone cannot incorporate us with it. Sensual and 


unbelieving men may have knowledge. Scoffers have 
had clearer views than many an unlettered saint. 
Neither can any acts of our own will, or our inward 
resolutions make us partakers of the kingdom of 
Christ : except He who alone hath the key of David, 
who " openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and 
no man openeth/' 1 shall receive us to be his subjects. 
He only can open the gate of his church. It is an 
act of sovereignty, a prerogative of his kingly office 
to make men subjects of his kingdom. Therefore 
when He sent forth his servants to gather out by 
teaching and baptism a people for his name, He 
said " I appoint unto you a kingdom., as my Father 
hath appointed unto me." To his apostles he gave 
the keys of the kingdom of Heaven : to their suc- 
cessors the same charge has descended. What they 
do, He does : their acts, if the keys err not, are His. 
What they bind on earth is bound in heaven, and 
what they loose on earth is loosed in heaven. 2 

This then is the office of the church, to gather out 
of the world the guilty and defiled, to bring them to^ 
cleansing and to peace : to seek out the burdened and 
the mourners to bind up them that are broken in 
heart, and to give medicine to heal their sickness : to 
represent to mankind not the power and Godhead 
alone, but the care and the pity, the sympathy and 
the love of Christ : to bring home his mercy to the 
sufferings of men : to prolong his very presence, and 
the ministries of his compassion. 

I have been drawn to these thoughts by the subject 

1 Matthew xvi. 19. 3 Rev. iii. 7. 


which brings us together to-day. You are associated 
for the purpose of aiding the pastors of the church in 
their work of salvation in this land. Your object is 
to promote the knowledge of Christ, by spreading 
the word of God, and the offices of the church : and 
to provide sound religious books, and books of a 
general sort on sound religious principles. It is of 
the highest moment to consecrate literature : to hold 
it in alliance with religion and with the church. The 
power of the press is one of the most marked and 
pregnant phenomena of these latter times. Its effects 
both for good, and for evil are great and awful. It 
must be turned to the service of God and of his truth, 
or its subtil and terrific working will be guided by 
the spirit of Antichrist. 

Now it is by knowledge, as the guide, that men are 
brought to Christ. Religious knowledge does indeed 
reveal to man the nature of God and of his own 
spiritual being, the character of Christ and the laws 
of his kingdom. So far is well : but this is not all. 
It must be followed up by other ministries. It is no 
hard matter to diffuse knowledge even of religion. 
The power of civilization in exciting the intellect, 
and the facility with which a mechanical habit of 
reading is obtained, render it no difficult matter to 
spread Christian knowledge as such. But this will 
not suffice. Knowledge alone will not make men 
subjects of Christ's kingdom. The root of ignorance 
is sin : and if we would disperse ignorance we must 
dispel the powers of guilt and pollution which prey 
upon the spiritual nature of mankind. We must find 
an avenue to the human will : and wean it from the 
lusts of this fallen world, and draw it towards the 


purities of Christ's kingdom. We must teach men 
to feel in the depth of their spiritual being that they 
are storm-beaten, and withered under the blast of the 
evil one, before they will yearn for a hiding-place and 
a shelter. What can fall more empty and meaningless 
than these words of the prophet upon the ears of a 
vicious and deadened people ? If they be understood 
at all, for the most part, they excite the deep seated 
enmity of a corrupt and alienated will. Wheresoever 
the lusts of this world have confirmed their dominion, 
the very name of Christ is a word of fear and of 
provocation. For it is against the purity, not against 
the knowledge of the gospel, that the enmity of men 
is pointed. And none are so stubbornly set against 
the reign of Christ as relapsed and outcast Christians : 
men over whom truth has lost its power : and sin has 
regained its dominion : into whom the unclean spirit, 
once cast out, has returned again with a sevenfold 
presence. Such, to our humiliation, in this our favoured 
but guilty land, are to be found among our neglected 
millions. Who can utter the depth of the abasement 
to which they have fallen ? Who can conceive in his 
heart the awful mysteries of guilt and misery which 
our thronging towns, and our mines beneath the 
earth conceal from the sight of men? Who can 
imagine the secrets of defilement which are naked to 
the eye of God ? It is most awful : a phenomenon 
of spiritual wo to which there is no parallel in Christen- 
dom : the like of which Christ's church has hardly 
seen before. What sorrows and miseries are there : 
what torment of conscience and despair : to what 
form of affliction are they strangers? Sickness, 
anguish of body, with all the sufferings of our over- 
laboured and toil-worn humanity, bereavement of 


heart, and bitterness of soul, widowhood and desola- 
tion, all these prey upon them as upon ourselves. 
We know the sharpness of the edge in the midst 
of our many consolations. What must be their un- 
alleviated sorrows ? There is no way of mitigating 
their sufferings but by bringing them to know and to 
obey our Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and their 
King. The political, economical, and social schemes 
by which men of this world think to raise and to 
reunite the people of this country are poor remedies. 
There is a hardness of heart in the ignorance which 
our modern theorists exhibit as to what really makes 
the weal and wo of mankind. The maladies of human 
nature lie too deep for any but the healing which is in 
the kingdom of Christ. Nothing but waking men up 
to feel their fallen state and bringing them not to 
partake only of knowledge even though it be religious, 
but to yield obedience to the rule of Christ, will suffice. 
We must manifest to them the love and patience of 
Christ our Lord and theirs : and the purity and rest 
of them that are the subjects of his righteous and 
peaceful throne. 

Now for this work I cannot bring myself to speak 
of money. Alas, if you do not give of your substance 
according to your ability and your obligation ; but 
alas too, if you give no more than this : no better 
gift : nothing that penetrates more deeply into the 
reality of this great and sacred work. We are all 
charged with the duty of promoting it. Chiefly indeed 
it lies on us, the Clergy, to whom He has delivered 
over the divine commission which he received of his 
Father. By word and life we must win men to Christ. 
" Necessity is laid upon'* us ; yea, wo is unto us if 


we preach not the Gospel. It were better for us that 
we had never been born. 

But hardly less, though in other ways, are our 
lay-brethren bound to work with us. As they possess 
rank or riches, and with them the manifold oppor- 
tunities of good, so shall they give account of their 
stewardship when the king of righteousness shall take 
account with his servants. You are charged with the 
welfare of your fellows. We know who it was that 
said. "Am I my brother's keeper?" and we know 
also his condemnation. We are our brother's keeper. 
Every member of Christ's body is charged with the 
welfare of the whole. Each one of us in his own way. 
You that are lords of the soil, to whom the benigner 
powers of the old feudal state are still continued : 
those that live and toil, and die upon your broad 
lands are entrusted to your paternal care. You are 
related to them by a bond which, as it exacts service 
of them, so it demands a generous solicitude from you. 
It is your high duty to foster and to watch over their 
temporal, but above all their spiritual welfare t to 
spread among them the knowledge of Christ by the 
ministry of the church, and by your own words and 

There are others, also, who make their gains by the 
labour and skill of manufacturers. To those that toil 
for them they owe a great debt of Christian recompense. 
It is a perilous thing to draw wealth from the labour 
of men without Christ in the world : for there is a 
canker upon the gold and silver which is heaped 
together by the toil of the miserable and debased. 
Sooner or later it will eat through the bags in which 


it is laid up : and the treasures which are amassed by 
merciless hands will vanish suddenly. Wealth gotten 
in unhallowed ways is no wealth : it is but an illusion, 
and a phantom : full of allurement and intoxication 
of heart. Let us beware how we are lifted up by our 
national greatness. The true wealth of nations is 
righteousness, mercy, and the fear of God. All 
besides is peril, and an awful probation. 

It is in your hands, then, to do a blessed work of 
mercy : in converting sinners to the way of life ; in 
breaking hardened hearts into repentance ; in bringing 
back the soiled to purity ; in sheltering the young 
from the snares and assaults of the wicked, in gathering 
out the elect of God from the darkness and pollution 
of the world. All this you may bear a part in doing ; 
each in his way and measure, some by direct ministries 
of charity ; some by teaching ; some by alms ; some 
by intercessions ; all working together to restore the 
kingdom of righteousness and peace in our land. It 
is a work of mercy and of mystery, which is ever 
advancing to its end. Whether we will be fellow 
workers with Him or no : whether we will be for him 
or against him : His work can no man hinder. If we 
will not, He will raise up another people in our stead. 
Even now throughout all the earth, among all lan- 
guages, people, and tongues, the penitent, and weary, 
and broken in heart are pressing in under the shadow 
of his throne : even now they are gathering within 
the folds of his pavilion : in the sanctuary of his 
unseen presence : and he is comforting them, and 
binding up their wounds, and revealing to them his 
own pierced side, and the crown of thorns, and the 
tokens of his life-giving passion, the emblems of his 


incarnate glory, working in them compunction and 
cleansing, and consolation, The mystical number of 
the penitent and the purified is ever growing to its 
fulness : and the end of all things is at hand ; our life, 
each one, is fast running out, the day of salvation to 
our land, it may be, is far spent. Our provocations 
have been many, our sins of omission exceeding great. 
What are we now doing for those for whom the Son 
of God shed his blood upon the cross ? Let us redeem 
the time that remains : and strive with sevenfold 
strength, by prayers and alms, by pureness and 
charity, by persevering efforts both in word and deed 
" to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, 
and for his children who are in the midst of this 
naughty world that they may be saved through Christ 
for ever." 1 

1 Office for ordering 1 of Priests.